How 15-year-old US Wimbledon sensation Coco Gauff’s coach father inspired her to fight injustice

The rising tennis star who has become an overnight sensation after beating Venus Williams at Wimbledon has been challenged by her father to ‘change the world with her racket’. 

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2004, Cori ‘Coco’ Gauff comes from a rich sporting heritage, with father Corey, a former basketball player for Georgia State University, while her mother Candi excelled at both gymnastics and track athletics while growing up in Florida.

She took up tennis aged seven and the family moved from their home in Atlanta to Delray Beach in Florida for its elite tennis facilities previously used by both Venus and Serena Williams, whom Coco has grown up idolising.

But her father has also had a huge impact on her life, travelling the world with her as her coach and inspiring her to use her developing ‘voice’ for change, while her mother gave up teaching to home school her daughter to allow her to concentrate on the sport.

Coco became the youngest qualifier in Wimbledon history at just 15 and defied the odds to defeat 39-year-old Williams yesterday, earning praise from around the world. 

And all the hard work Coco and her parents have put into training is beginning to pay off, with the teenager expected to rake in around £800,000 ($1million) in 2019 through prize money and lucrative sponsorship deals with New Balance and Head. 

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Wimbledon starlet Cori 'Coco' Gauff has been hailed as a future world number one but remains a 'humble' teenager according to family and friends. She grew up idolising the Williams sisters and her first ever Instagram post was of her beaming while meeting Serena in September 2016 (pictured). She went on to beat the elder sister Venus, 39, in her first proper Wimbledon match

Wimbledon starlet Cori 'Coco' Gauff has been hailed as a future world number one but remains a 'humble' teenager according to family and friends. She grew up idolising the Williams sisters and her first ever Instagram post was of her beaming while meeting Serena in September 2016 (pictured). She went on to beat the elder sister Venus, 39, in her first proper Wimbledon match

Wimbledon starlet Cori ‘Coco’ Gauff has been hailed as a future world number one but remains a ‘humble’ teenager according to family and friends. She grew up idolising the Williams sisters and her first ever Instagram post was of her beaming while meeting Serena in September 2016 (pictured). She went on to beat the elder sister Venus, 39, in her first proper Wimbledon match 

Her father Codey, pictured with Coco on the tennis courts as a child, has been her full time coach since she started playing tennis

Her father Codey, pictured with Coco on the tennis courts as a child, has been her full time coach since she started playing tennis

Coco's mother Candi, pictured with her daughter as a child, wanted her to have opportunities to further her sporting career that she did not have with gymnastics

Coco's mother Candi, pictured with her daughter as a child, wanted her to have opportunities to further her sporting career that she did not have with gymnastics

Coco owes much of her success to her parents, with her father Corey acting as her full-time coach (pictured left with her on the courts in Florida as a child) and her mother quitting a teaching job to home-school her daughter. The couple also have two younger sons, Codey, 11, and Cameron, five and live in Delray Beach, Florida, where they moved from Atlanta, Georgia, when Coco was seven so she could have access to better tennis facilities

After defeating Venus yesterday, Gauff broke down into tears - and revealed it was the first time she had cried since Ironman died in Avengers End Game. The teenager says she tries to stay grounded and live a normal life, including having a passion for the music of Jaden Smith and Kendrick Lamar

After defeating Venus yesterday, Gauff broke down into tears - and revealed it was the first time she had cried since Ironman died in Avengers End Game. The teenager says she tries to stay grounded and live a normal life, including having a passion for the music of Jaden Smith and Kendrick Lamar

After defeating Venus yesterday, Gauff broke down into tears – and revealed it was the first time she had cried since Ironman died in Avengers End Game. The teenager says she tries to stay grounded and live a normal life, including having a passion for the music of Jaden Smith and Kendrick Lamar

Her father, middle right, could not contain his excitement while his wife Candi, middle left, took snaps of their victorious daughter from their seats at Wimbledon

Her father, middle right, could not contain his excitement while his wife Candi, middle left, took snaps of their victorious daughter from their seats at Wimbledon

Her father, middle right, could not contain his excitement while his wife Candi, middle left, took snaps of their victorious daughter from their seats at Wimbledon

According to the New York Times, Coco is now using her developing profile to raise awareness of issues including violence and child death in Sudan and African-American issues.

She told the Times: ‘During Black History Month I was posting one random fact that you don’t learn at school a day. Because there’s so many things that I didn’t know if it wasn’t for the internet and social media.’

Her father added he wanted ‘the power of her voice to grow with her game’.

He said: ‘I’ve always challenged her, from the beginning of this when we started, telling her that she’ll be able to change the world with her racket.

‘So I’m not going to encourage her, when she gets there, to stick her head in the ground and ignore social issues.’

Coco’s mother has also revealed one of the reasons behind moving to Florida was because she herself missed out on developing her teenage gymnastics talents when her parents would not relocate to an area with a better training programme.

Coco has enjoyed a buzz around her career from a young age, with Roger Federer's talent agency Team8 signing her up when she was just 13. She is pictured here with the eight-time Wimbledon champion who has praised her chances of becoming a future Grand Slam winner

Coco has enjoyed a buzz around her career from a young age, with Roger Federer's talent agency Team8 signing her up when she was just 13. She is pictured here with the eight-time Wimbledon champion who has praised her chances of becoming a future Grand Slam winner

Coco has enjoyed a buzz around her career from a young age, with Roger Federer’s talent agency Team8 signing her up when she was just 13. She is pictured here with the eight-time Wimbledon champion who has praised her chances of becoming a future Grand Slam winner

Coco, pictured, recently spoke out about how she put 'random facts you don't hear in school' about African-American history on social media during Black History Month

Coco, pictured, recently spoke out about how she put 'random facts you don't hear in school' about African-American history on social media during Black History Month

The 15-year-old, pictured, also spoke about how she wants to raise awareness about violence in Sudan

The 15-year-old, pictured, also spoke about how she wants to raise awareness about violence in Sudan

Coco, left and right, recently spoke out about how she put ‘random facts you don’t hear in school’ about African-American history on social media during Black History Month and also about how she wants to raise awareness about violence in Sudan

Speaking after the electrifying match, an emotional Gauff revealed her friends and family are ecstatic - including her coach and father Corey, pictured

Speaking after the electrifying match, an emotional Gauff revealed her friends and family are ecstatic - including her coach and father Corey, pictured

Speaking after the electrifying match, an emotional Gauff revealed her friends and family are ecstatic – including her coach and father Corey, pictured 

Speaking about her parents after the match, Gauff said: 'I'm just so happy and blessed that they really just spent all their time on me and my brothers and making sure that we're successful'

Speaking about her parents after the match, Gauff said: 'I'm just so happy and blessed that they really just spent all their time on me and my brothers and making sure that we're successful'

Speaking about her parents after the match, Gauff said: ‘I’m just so happy and blessed that they really just spent all their time on me and my brothers and making sure that we’re successful’

Candi told the Palm Beach Sun-Sentinel the sport was her ‘first love’ but that she took on track and field because of her love of competing, something she has passed on to her daughter.

A day in the life of Coco Gauff… 

6.30am – She wakes at the Gauff family home in Delray Beach, Florida.

7.15am – Breakfast with her family. They say a prayer before eating.

7.40am – Her father-coach, Corey, takes her two younger brothers, Cody and Cameron, to school.

8am – She hits the practice courts with her father.

1pm – Training session in the gym, with a focus on mobility and flexibility.

3pm – She has a second hit of the day on the practice courts, this time focusing on match play.

5pm – Time with her mother, Candi, a former teacher who homeschools her.

6.30pm – Family time. She likes to play with her younger brothers.

She added: ‘No matter what I was going to do, I was going to try and do my best in it, because I just like to compete.’

Her husband told the Sun-Sentinel their daughter took after her mother from a young age and has always shown determination.

He added: ‘[Candi] tells the story of [Coco] running around the track with her older cousins when she was three or four years old, and she wouldn’t stop and she kept running, and she was crying because she couldn’t catch them. 

‘And I’m like, “Man, this is gonna be interesting. She’s got some kind of determination”.’ 

Her parents have also dedicated their own lives to helping her, with her former teacher mother home-schooling her while her father became her coach and has travelled the world with his daughter when she has competed in junior tournaments.

They still live in Florida with Coco and her younger brothers Codey, 11, and Cameron, five.

Outside the court Coco is still a teenager trying to live a normal life, with a passion for Jaden Smith, Kendrick Lamar and Miss Mulatto music.   

Coco has also spoken of how she tries to stay humble and keep herself to herself, revealing some of her former teachers didn’t even know she was playing at Wimbledon until days before the tournament. 

Coco is likely to earn $1million by the end of the year through prize money and sponsorship deals with New Balance and Head

Coco is likely to earn $1million by the end of the year through prize money and sponsorship deals with New Balance and Head

Coco is likely to earn $1million by the end of the year through prize money and sponsorship deals with New Balance and Head

She uses social media like any teenager and reveals how she spends her down time, such as going to Ariana Grande concerts with friends, pictured here in Miami

She uses social media like any teenager and reveals how she spends her down time, such as going to Ariana Grande concerts with friends, pictured here in Miami

She uses social media like any teenager and reveals how she spends her down time, such as going to Ariana Grande concerts with friends, pictured here in Miami

Coco shared this post marking the historic moment at Wimbledon - which is the first time the 15-year-old has played in a Grand Slam main draw

Coco shared this post marking the historic moment at Wimbledon - which is the first time the 15-year-old has played in a Grand Slam main draw

Coco shared this post marking the historic moment at Wimbledon – which is the first time the 15-year-old has played in a Grand Slam main draw 

Coco said: ‘They saw my name in an article. I have three other teachers that don’t know I play tennis. 

‘I’m not really the type of person to talk about myself, so I still think they don’t know.’

Speaking to the BBC, Candi said her daughter’s hard work is starting to pay off.

Mrs Gauff said: ‘Everything is finally coming together for her [Coco] and now she can go on to her pro career.

‘She has worked and practised day in, day out. She has sacrificed a lot and I’m so happy that she can live her dream.’ 








Coco has also enjoyed success with her country, competing in world championship winning junior sides, pictured

Coco has also enjoyed success with her country, competing in world championship winning junior sides, pictured

Coco has also enjoyed success with her country, competing in world championship winning junior sides, pictured

Corey Gauff, pictured with Coco as a child, has spoken about how he saw determination in her from a very young age

Corey Gauff, pictured with Coco as a child, has spoken about how he saw determination in her from a very young age

Corey Gauff, pictured with Coco as a child, has spoken about how he saw determination in her from a very young age

Coco has been highly regarded in the tennis world from a young age, with Roger Federer’s talent agency Team8 signing her up two years ago.

Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou, was quick to bring her to his academy in Nice, France, when she was 11 and praised her ‘toughness and resolve’ under pressure even at that age.  

Coco beat seven-time Grand Slam singles winner Venus Williams 6-4 6-4 yesterday – less than a week after finishing her exams. Fans have rushed to pay tribute to the astounding victory on social media. 

Willliams, 39, won four of her Grand Slam titles before Gauff was even born. Speaking after her victory, the emotional teenager revealed her friends and family are ecstatic.

She said: ‘I know [my parents] are super happy, my dad was just jumping up every time I won a point. I’m just so happy and blessed that they really just spent all their time on me and my brothers and making sure that we’re successful.’   

The teenager told the BBC that her father told her when she was just eight years old that she could do well in the sport but added: ‘Obviously you never believe it.’  

She went on to joke that she would be staying up all night responding to calls from her brother and grandma and texts from friends. 

Earlier this week, she told SportsMail of her admiration for the Williams sisters – her first Instagram post is a shot of her and Serena – and revealed a previous encounter with Venus aged eight.

The emotional teenager shared this post to her Instagram account following the victory over her idol, Venus Williams, at Wimbledon yesterday

The emotional teenager shared this post to her Instagram account following the victory over her idol, Venus Williams, at Wimbledon yesterday

The emotional teenager shared this post to her Instagram account following the victory over her idol, Venus Williams, at Wimbledon yesterday

The emotional teenager shared this post to her Instagram account following the victory over her idol, Venus Williams, at Wimbledon yesterday

The emotional teenager shared these posts to her Instagram account following the victory over her idol, Venus Williams, at Wimbledon yesterday

One Twitter user said Coco had an incredible debut

One Twitter user said Coco had an incredible debut

Another predicted Coco was destined for the top five in the world

Another predicted Coco was destined for the top five in the world

Fans around the world, sporting stars and tennis legends have been quick to praise Coco for her achievements

She said: ‘They’re great role models for the sport and in general. I’m super excited to play against Venus. I’ve never practised or hit with either of them. 

‘My first U.S. Open I went to when I was eight we saw a Venus match, my dad somehow got us front-row tickets. I got her autograph, I was so happy. 

‘After the match she gave the ball kids one of the balls and he gave it to me — I don’t know if she told him to.’

Gauff was not even born when Williams claimed her first Wimbledon title in 2000. She had a world ranking of 301 at the start of this year’s championships, and was given a wild card entry for her first Grand Slam tournament. 

After winning, Gauff broke down into tears – the first time she had cried since Ironman died in Avengers End Game.  

She added: ‘Honestly I don’t really know how to feel. This was definitely the first time I ever cried after winning a match. I don’t even know how to explain how I feel. 

‘I had to tell myself to stay calm, I’d never played on a court so big. I had to remind myself that the lines are the same size.’ 

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